RAYS 9, Red Sox 2 (boxscore)
THE GOOD: Juan Carlos Oviedo. All signs were that Oviedo would not be ready for opening day after missing so much time with visa issues. But on Sunday, Oviedo was hitting 91-93 on the gun with his fastball. That smells like a guy that is a lot closer to being ready than people realized. All of a sudden that final spot in the bullpen looks a lot different. He did give up 3 hits and a walk to the 6 batters he faced. But that just sounds like he needs to find his spots and is less an issue about stuff…Matt Joyce. After missing 3 games with a stiff neck, Joyce returned with a home run (see video below).
THE BAD: Erik Bedard. The Rays tried to talk Bedard into staying and accepting an assignment to triple-A. He chose not to and opted out of his contract. His locker has already been cleared out. It is hard to blame Bedard considering all the injuries to starting pitchers this spring. But from the Rays standpoint, it means they just lost a starting pitcher on the depth chart and got nothing in return. This led to an interesting discussion in the comments over the weekend. Who is the “backup starting pitcher?” The obvious choice is Cesar Ramos. But the Rays left Wade Davis in the bullpen when they needed starters in 2012. Maybe Ramos starts a game or two in an emergency situation, but if he is in the ‘pen, he is in the ‘pen. That leaves Alex Colome, Enny Romero, and Nate Karns at triple-A. Karns feels like a work-in-progress and the Rays may prefer to keep him down longer. So the first pitcher off the bench is likely Colome or Romero.
THE TELLING: If Juan Carlos Oviedo is NOT on the opening day roster, there are two spots open in the bullpen with the most likely candidates being Brandon Gomes, Josh Lueke, and Mark Lowe. If Oviedo does make the team, those three are battling for one spot. Normally, we would consider Gomes a lock. But he has a minor league option and Lueke does not. Also, with Bedard not making the team, there is a spot available on the 40-man roster which Lowe could take…Hak-Ju Lee is to have an MRI on his surgically-repaired knee after “tweaking” it.
THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- There are still some questions about whether the renovations to the Trop will be a distraction to hitters. MLB officials say the redesign is in line with other ballparks. [Tampabay.com]
- Here is more on the battle for the final bullpen spot. [TBO.com]
- James Shields took Stephen Strasburg under his wing this winter. [WaPo]
- Here is what other players think of Wil Myers hair. [TampaBay.com]
- Looks like the Durham Bulls have a new official blog. [Hit Bull Win Blog]